James Puckle’s 1700 version of his patriotic, herring fishery promotional pamphlet, crying out for English superiority over the Dutch
ENGLAND’S PATH TO WEALTH AND HONOUR
England’s Way to Wealth and Honour, in a Dialogue Between an Englishman and a Dutchman by James Puckle (c 1667 – 1724) was published in 1697. It had started life the previous year as the pamphlet, England’s Interests, or a Brief Discourse of the Royal Fishery in a Letter to a Friend, which had already gone to a second edition before, earlier in 1697, it briefly became A New Dialogue between a Burgermaster and an English Gentleman.
By 1700 there was a new version for which Way gave way to Path. A second edition of this, with additions, was published in 1718 and this is the text included below. At least one further edition was published, posthumously, in 1750.
You have to feel sorry for the Dutchman, who basically only says, ‘Hello.’ It’s like being caught in a pub conversation with a stranger, the manic gleam in whose eye you unfortunately missed.
The essential argument for England’s greatness as a fishing nation centres on a capacity to be better than Holland if it tried. The number of editions is a testament to the continuing failure to do so, despite three Anglo-Dutch wars having severely damaged their herring industry.
Puckle does give the Dutchman some good lines. With so many English men, women and children in some C17th projection of a corrupted and corrupting service industry, where then can you hope to find Hands to carry on your Fishery, he asks.
There’s a resonance in the answer, In England, we have Numbers of French Protestants, who fled from Diep and the Coasts of Normandy, &c. (bred to the Business of the Fishery from their Cradles) that (if setled in our decayed Fishing Towns)…
And there’s a kind of contemporary resonance to, where can you find a Set of Honest Men, to carry on a National Fishery in England?
Puckle’s restless imagination was not restricted to the possibilities of the herring industry. In 1718 he patented designs for an early version of the Gatling gun.
England’s Path TO Wealth and Honour IN A DIALOGUE Between an English-Man AND A Dutch-Man.
LUKE V.4. ‘Launch out into the deep, and let down your nets for a draught’ .
The second Edition with Additions.
A NEW DIALOGUE Between an ENGLISH-MAN AND A DUTCH-MAN.
Dutch-Man, GOOD morrow Friend, what art musing on?
English-Man, Considering the Extent of these your Dykes, I was thinking what excessive Charge and Pains Holland is yearly at to defend it self against invading Waves: Whereas the Sea that encircles happy England (Barrier like) fenceth it against Surprize and Ravages, exempts us from the Charge and Terrour of Garrisons and Fortifications, and (with our Floating Castles) continues to us that quiet Liberty and Security the rest of Europe more or less have lost.
D. What though England be fenc’d in by the Seas, happier Holland hath a mighty Ocean of Wealth to defend it, and Money you know is the Sinews of War.
E. The cold Winds (being moistened by the Vapours, or softned by the warmth of the Seas motion before they reach our Islands) are less fierce, and the Air is far more Mild and Temperate (if not more Healthy) than any part of the Continent under the same Climate; so that we have no necessity for Grotto’s in Summer, or Stoves in Winter.
D. In my Opinion, that Country is still Happiest that is stored with the Richest growths and products for Trafick and Commerce, and the Air ever best where most Money is stirring; for Poverty and Want will render People unhealthy in all Climates.
E. England abounds with Mines, Rocks, Pits and Quarries of (1) Aliblaster, (2) Antimony, (3) Ardois, (4) Blacklead, (5) Chalk, (6) Christal, (7) Tobaccopipe-Clay, (8) Coals of divers Sorts, (9) Copper, (10) Fullers-Earth, (11) Freestone, (12) Iron, (13) Lapis Calaminaris to make Brass, (14) Loadstones, (15) Lead, (16) Marble, (17) Milstones, (18) Plaister harder then that of Paris, (19) Potters-Oar, (20) Slate, (21) Salt, (22) Steel, (23) Tinn, (24) Whetstones, &c.
Upon its Coasts are found (25) Amber, (26) Ambergrise, (27) abundance of Copperice Stone, (28) Jet, (29) Pearls, (30) fine Pebles, transparent like Diamonds, also Flint, Varrack, &c. to make Glass: Besides (not to mention the Rich Commodities yearly Imported from its Fruitful Plantations, that are to it as so many Mines Of Treasure,) England affords Plenty of Corn, Cattle, Fowl, Fruit, Pulse, Leather, Wool, &c. Whereas, Holland produceth nothing but a few Hops, Madder, Butter and Cheese.
D. The whole Product of our Island is nothing, when compared to the (31) Golden Mines of our Provinces, which have yielded us more Treasure than the Mines of Potosi, or both Indies to Spain.
E. The Golden Mines of your Provinces; Pray where do they lie?
D. In Neptunes Store-pond, which the English call their Seas.
E. Our Famous Edgar with a Navy of Four hundred Sail, vindicated his Dominion on our adjacent Seas, and Records mention his Successor Canutus to have laid that ancient Tribute called Danegelt, upon all (whether Strangers or Denizons) trading on our Coasts or Seas.
Egbert, Althred and Ethelfred, all stiled themselves Supream Lord’s and Governour’s of the Ocean, surrounding the Brittish Shore.
King John (32) challenged the Honour (or rather) Duty of the Flag, universally paid us, not barely as a Civility, but as a Right (debità Reverentià) Acknowledging our Title and Dominion.
The Famous Record entituled Pro hominibus Hollandie, shews how Obsequious your Ancestors were, not only in acknowledging (33) Edward the Firsts Dominion on the Sea, but craving his Protection and Permission to Fish on the Coast of England: And had not the Sovereignty of the Brittish Seas in fact been in the Crown of England, why did the (34) Earls of Holland Petition Edward the Third (and the (35) French our Henry the Sixth) for leave to Fish therein? And why did your (36) Skippers use to purchase License from Scarborough Castle, before they presumed to cast a Net upon the North Coast of England? Wherefore did Phillip the Second of Spain, (37) obtain License of Queen Mary for his Subjects to Fish upon the North Coasts of Ireland for the Term of Twenty one Years, for which, was yearly paid One thousand Pounds into the Exchequer of Ireland as by the Records appear?
D. A Fig for your mouldy Records: I say the Sea is as free to Fish in as
E. As the Roads of Holland are to Travel in, where both Natives and Foreigners are forced to pay passage Ghelt.
D. Don’t Interrupt me Sir; I say, the Sea is as free to Fish in as the Air to Breath in, who doubts it, may read our Great Hugo Grotius’s, Mare liberum.
E. Grotius in his Sylvæ upon the Inauguration of King James (before he was perverted by the Importunities of his Country Men,) speaking his Thoughts freely say’s,
‘Tria Sceptra profundi
In magnum coiere Ducem.’
The Rights of the English, Scottish and Irish Seas, are united under one Scepter; neither is he satisfied with that bare Profession:
‘Sume Animos à Rege tuo qui dat Jura Mari.’
Take courage from the King that giveth Laws to the Seas.
And in the same Book in the contemplation of so great a Power, he concludeth.
‘ Finis hic est qui fine caret’ , &c.
This is an End beyond an End, a Bound that knows no Bounds, which even the Winds and Waves must submit to.
And if you remember when King James observed your Encroachments, he enjoined his Ambassadour Sir Dudley Carleton to Expostulate it with your States, as may be seen in Mr. Secretaries Letter, (38) wherein he tells them, ‘”That unless they sought leave from his Majesty and acknowledged his Right, as other Princes had done, and did, it might well come to pass, that they who would needs bear all the World before them by their Mare Liberum, might soon endanger their having neither Terram, nec Solum, nec Republicam liberam’ : So much did that Wise Prince disdain to be wrangled out of the Antient Rights, and Regalities inherently annexed to his Crown, by the subtle Arguments of Wit and Sophistry.
D. Don’t tell me of King James, I say, that the Sea is free for every Body, and defy you to shew the Contrary.
E. Why then do the Venetians exercise Dominion in the Adriatique, and the Tuscans Lord it in the Tyrrhene Seas? How comes it to pass that all your Skippers pay Toll to Denmark for passing the Sound, and to Sweedland for sailing in the Baltick? Wherefore doth the Republick of Genoa, let to Farm the Fishery for Teunies in their Neighbouring Seas: And the Emperour of Russia compel all Fishermen (within his Seas) to pay him Tribute: How is’t that the like is done by the Duke of Medina Sidonia in Spain, and by all the Princes of Italy bordering on the Seas? Nay, wherefore do the Dutch Stile themselves Lord’s of the Southern Seas, and allow far less Liberty in India than they take upon the English Coasts.
But to wave this Dispute: Pray Sir, how many Labourers have you in your Golden Mines as you call’d ’em.
D. Upon taking an Account of the several Trades and Employments, by which the Dutch subsisted (in order to find which best deserved the Protection and Encouragement of the Publick, it appeared that in Anno 1668. The Subjects of the States General were (39) Two millions, Four hundred and Fifty thousand, of which (besides those employed in the Inland Fishery,) Four hundred and Fifty thousand were then maintained by Fishing at Sea, and the Trafick depending thereon; since which time we have much encreased the Numbers of our Fishing Busses and Doggers to the great Encouragement of our Navigation, and all Trades depending on the Fishery?
E. Which are they?
D. Anchorsmiths, Bakers, Ballestmen, Basketmakers, Blacksmiths, Brewers, Butchers, Carpenters, Caulkers, Clapboard-splitters, Compass-makers, Coopers, Duck-weavers, Hempdressers, Hook-makers, Hoop-slitters, Joyners, Line-makers, Marriners, Mast-makers, Netmakers, Net-tanners, Plummers, Pully-makers, Pump-makers, Rope-makers, Sail-makers, Sawyers, Ship-chandlers, Shipwrights, Tallow-chandlers, Thread and Twine-spinners, &c. to the no small Profit of the Makers and Venders of all Materials, Tools and Utensils belonging to those Trades, and of all Tradesmen that make or sell Culinary Wares, Bedding, Cloathing, &c. for Marriners; to which may be added, Packers, Tollers, Dressers, and Couchers to carry, sort, and make the Herring lawful Merchandize, also Porters, Carmen, &c. In a word, you can hardly cast an Eye upon any sort or condition of People, but are the better for our Fishery, and the community most of all.
E. Pray where, and at what times of the Year do you fish for Herrings?
D. In the beginning of June, the Herring rising about two Leagues off Cranehead (the outermost part of Bratio-sound,) stay there about fourteen Day’s, thence go to Farry Islands (seaven Leagues to the Southward of Shetland,) round which they remain one and twenty Day’s, thence to Buffinness (about thirty Leagues to the Southward of Farry Island,) the Fishing place is called Buffin-deeps, and is twenty Leagues to the Northward of the Frith, where the Herring abide about fourteen Day’s, and in the Fishing ground under Chivit-hills and Chivitchace about fourteen Day’s, thence we follow them to the Dogger-bank, where they stay about thirty seaven Day’s; about the beginning of September, they come into Yarmouth Seas, where they continue near seaventy Day’s, from whence they fall to the Southward, followed by small Fishermen, it being dangerous for Busses.
E. What quantities of Fish are yearly taken by the Dutch?
D. About (40) Three hundred thousands Lasts.
E. This confirms Sir Walter Rawleigh’s Observations presented to King James, (41) and shews that the Learned Sir John Burrough’s in his Sovereignty of the Brittish Seas, upon good Grounds affirmed that the Fish yearly taken by Strangers upon our Coast’s, did amount to (42) above Ten millions of pounds Sterling: But pray Sir, where have you vent for all your Fish?
D. At Artois, Brabant, Bremen, Cleveland, Cologne, Dantzig, Denmark, Elbin, Embden, Flanders, France, Frankford, Germany, Gulickland, Hamburgh, Henault, Holstein, Italy, Liefland, Lithuania, Lubeck, Nerva, Norway, Poland, Pomerland, Portugal, Prussia, Quinsbrough, Revel, Riga, Russia, Spain, Stade, Stratten, Sweedland, &c.
E. Are you never afraid of glutting the Markets.
D. No more than we are that People will leave eating, great part of the trading World being yet unserved, which is the Reason we yearly so much encrease the Number of our Doggers.
E. What Returns are made for your Fish?
D. Allum, Armour, Baratees and other Frankford Commodities, Brandy, Bullion, Clapboard, Coin, Copper, Corn, Currants and other Grocery Wares, Damasks, Dealboards, Dollars, Flax, Fruit, Furrs, Fustians, Glass, Hemp, Honey, Hulsop, Iron, Lace, Linnen, Milstones, Oyl, Pitch, Plate, Potash, Prunes, Rashes, Rosin, Sarsenets, Sattins, Silks, Skins, Steel, Tapstry, Tar, Timber, Velvets, Wainscots, Wax, Wines, and other things in abundance; the exporting of which Commodities a gain to other Countries, gives our Ships full Employment, so that they need not go in Ballast to seek Freight, but by the Profit of our outward bound Voyages, are enabled to serve Foreigners so cheap, as to render us the common Carriers of the World, consequently Masters of the most certain Profit in Trade; for when the Ships arrive safe in Harbour, though Merchants happen to loose by their Goods, yet Seamen are paid their full Wages.
Besides by continual Bartering of such Exports, Holland is rendered the mighty Store-house, and Empory of all Foreign Products and Manufactures, from whose infinite Miscellany of Goods its Inhabitants are compleatly furnished with such sortable Wares, as enables them to Trade from Port to Port without danger of glutting Markets.
And thus as our Fishery hath encreased, our Trade and Navigation; constant Employment hath still made Foreigners flock to us in such Numbers, that out of our Multitudes, supplying (from time to time) the loss of so many lives as the change of Climates, Successes against the Portugeses, and Victories against the Indians have cost us; we have forced Treaties of Commerce, Exclusive to all other Nations: Built Forts upon Straits and Passes that Command the Entrances into Places of great Traffick; Monopolized all the Spice Trade, and mightily advanced towards Engrossing the whole Commerce of the East Indies.
E. Well may you boast, that Amsterdam is Founded upon Herring Bones; and no wonder that notwithstanding your so frequent and chargeable Wars ever since your Revolt from Spain, there is hardly a Beggar in your Streets.
But if in Holland, which contains not above Five millions of Acres, its Bogs and Sandydowns excluded.
Holland, where you have no Minerals, and where it is in vain to dig for any thing but Turf, and Clay.
Holland, where you have no Tree but what you planted, nor Stone but what you brought thither.
Holland, so much lower than the Ebbings of the Tides and Rivers, that at vast Expence you are obliged with Mills to drain the very Floods occasioned by the Rain.
Holland, where notwithstanding your continual Charge (as was said) in repairing Banks and Dykes; frequent Inundations destroy Man and Beast for several Miles together, and then vast Sums (and whole Years) are spent e’re the Land can be regained.
Holland, where the East Winds coming to you o’re a mighty length of dry Continent, extream Cold, and long Winters, put you to the expence of much Fire, Candles, Food and Rayment; and to great charge and pains in housing and foddering your Cattle, all which time (living on dry Food) they yield little Milk.
Holland, so exposed to bleak Winds, that blast the Blossoms of its Trees, and Storms that shatter off e’re ripe their Fruit.
Holland, where that little Arrable Land you have, lying generally on sand or light Bottoms, requires much Soil, and where Seedtime is so short, that unless it be exactly nicked no Profit can be reaped; for when the Seed rots in the Ground (as by great Rains it frequently happeneth,) the Season is generally past before it can be Sown again.
Holland, whose whole Product is scarce sufficient to serve (43) one Eighth part of its Inhabitants, consequently the rest are obliged to purchase the so necessary Commodities, Food, and Rayment of Neighbouring Countries at the Rates they can get them.
Holland, whose Territories extending upon powerful Neighbours, To defend it’s Frontiers, and draw out a War in length by Sieges, in order to determine it, by force of Money rather than of Arms; you are obliged to be at vast Expence in Fortifications and Standing Troops, to defend them even in the time of the profoundest Peace, for instance Anno 1670. After all Reforms, you had Ten Regiments of Horse and Nineteen of Foot, making together Twenty six thousand Two hundred Men, the constant Charge of which Forces was 556281l. Sterling per Annum.
I say, if in Holland naturally loaded with these Disadvantages and Misfortunes, and all their ill Consequences; notwithstanding you are (44) Bridled with hard Laws, terrified with severe Executions, environed with Foreign Forces, and oppressed with the most cruel Hardships and variety of Taxes that were ever known under any Government. Your People are become so numerous and wealthy, by Fishing upon our Northern Coasts.
Did we in England diligently apply our Selves to the Fishing Trade, what a continual Sea Harvest might we reap, whose Coasts so abound with Cod, Hake, Conger, Whiteings, Scate, Sprats, Soals, Oysters, Salmon, Pilchards, Turbets, Thornbacks, Mackerel, Herrings, or Ling, all the Year long.
D. Why e’ne such a Sea Harvest as the Hamburgers did (who after five or six Years trial to Imitate us in the Herring Fishery,) found to their cost we still outdid them, and so we shall you.
E. The Reason why you outdid the Hamburgers, was because they were yearly Frozen up (45) somewhat longer than you, but seeing by that Start you could out strip them, surely we need not fear the Goal; who (besides what has been said,) have in Fishing many more Advantages of you, than ever you had of the Hamburgers.
D. The generality of your Countrymen are of another Opinion.
E. I am not Ignorant what Industry has been used to Poyson my Countrymen with an Opinion, that none but Dutch-Men can thrive by Fishing: But unprejudiced Persons upon examining the Matter will find.
The Dutch have above an hundred Leagues to Sail before they come to the Herring Fishery, which is only in the Brittish Seas, and when there, must lie at the mercy of the Winds for want of a Port to Friend, and in case of Unloading have as far back again, which takes up a great deal of Time, hinders Business, and endangers the loss of their Markets: Whereas, in England we have the Fish upon our own Coasts, so near our Shoars, that in case of Storms, Unloading, taking in of Provisions, or the like, it is but four or five Hours work (commonly not so much) to recover an Harbour, and without loss of time put to Sea again; the work of Unloading, Repacking, and sending our Fish to Market going on in all Weathers.
D. And have not we Dogger Boats to take off our Fish at Sea, and refurnish the Fishermen with Cask, and other necessaries.
E. Yes Sir, and you have the charge and risque of those Dogger Boats too (both which the English save) after all if it happens to be a Rowling Sea, you must lie by and wait for a Calm.
D. What other Advantages can you boast?
E. England, hath many convenient Tidehaven-Ports, as at Hull, Harwich, and Holy Island to the Northward, and Dover, Rye, Portsmouth, Southampton, Cowes, Weymouth, Dartmouth, Catwater, Hamose, Fowey, Falmouth, Hilford, Scilly, and Milford Westward, where at low Water all of them are small Chingle or hard Sand; so that our Vessels may easily haul a shore, and Wash and Tallow at Pleasure; nor are Creecks and commodious Places wanting in England to lodge our Busses and Doggers safe when not employed, so as to prevent wear of Cables, charge of Watching, danger of Fire, &c.
D. What else?
E. The Shores of England are bold, its Coasts high-land, easily discovered, several of our CapeLands opposite to France and Holland, make Eddy-Bayes whose depth of Water is mean as six, eight, ten, or twelve Fathom the Tides (on our own Coasts) are small Anchor hold, generally stiff Clay, Chalk or hard Gravel, so that we need not dread Winter Storms, besides the Advantage we have of lying in a moderate Climate, and in the very Center of the Trade of Europe, affords us opportunity of sending to Forreign Parts, from divers of our Ports at all Seasons of the Year: Whereas the Coasts of Holland are extreamly Low, subject to be Hazy and Foggy, have many Shoals and Sands, some of which lie so far off at Sea, that frequently Ships are Stranded before they see Land; its Ports are bad, and often choaked up with Quicksands; its Haven’s yearly frozen up two or three Months together: And the North west Wind (usually blowing the greatest part of the Year) makes Holland a Lee, and England a Weathershore, so that (oft times) whil’st you are Wind bound or Frozen up at home, we can supply the Markets abroad.
Besides, wanting Wood at reasonable Rates, you cannot share with us in the Red-herring Trade.
As for Pilchards, they cannot be well cured unless brought Fresh on Shore, and being taken on our Coast’s, will be Stale e’re they can be carried to Your’s.
Not to mention our Rich New England Fishery, our Western Ports are incomparably scituated for the Newfound-Land Fishery, and the Country it self belonging to the Crown of England, you can have no footing there.
Near the Pile of Foudray in Lancashire, and in several other Places along the Shores of Wales; we can Fish even without the Charge of Busses, for by only setting Nets on the Sands at low Water, great quantities of Herrings are taken next Tide of Ebb.
D. Those Herrings on the Coast’s of Lancashire (coming newly out of the Ocean) are so fat they will not take Salt kindly, consequently are apt to Reast.
E. We now find by Experience, that fat Herrings being pressed and cured like Pilchards, take Salt kindly, and yield Store of Oyl, to the great Encouragement of our Ship-wrights, Curriers, Soap-boylers, &c.
D. How chance this Method was not found out sooner?
E. Dies Diem docet; those noble Salt Rocks in Cheshire, (sufficient to supply all Europe) have not been many Years discovered.
Besides, of a Stone abounding in Shropshire, much Pitch is now made of so Excellent a Nature, Heat only causeth it to penetrate deeper into Plank, and Cold cannot make it crackle off; both which are Advantages Holland can’t pretend to.
D. What more?
E. The Coast’s of Wales abound with Ash; which as far excels other Wood for drying Herrings, as its Bark doth all others for tanning Nets: Nor do we in England (as you) want Willowhoops from Hamburgh.
D. Notwithstanding all the Advantages you speak of your Chief Fishing Towns, Yarmouth and Laystoffe, are beholden either to us at Enckhuijsen, or to the French at Diep, for selling them Nets?
E. Before the late War, they used to buy Sail Cloath of you to, but that now made at Fulham, &c. is brought to equal Perfection with your best Hollands-Duck; and as for Nets, the Towns you mention, have these seaven Years last past made most they used; and who knows, but that our Artisans (universally allowed the best upon Earth for Improvements) may in a little time as much Excel you in these Things, as they out do the Germans in fine Steel-works, which though they first Invented, yet we now make and sell to them:
But seeing you talk of being beholden: I think you are beholden to us, for selling you our Thames Lamprons wherewith you bait for North Sea Cod, else you might go …… whistle for ’em.
D. Have you any more Advantages of us?
E. I omitted to tell you, that upon Exporting our Fish, we have the Benefit of a considerable draw back upon Salt.
D. If that were all, rather then suffer that Tide of Wealth that flows in our Fishery to be Diverted to another Channel; no doubt but our States will allow the Dutch the like Encouragement: But now I find you have told me all your Advantages.
E. Excuse me Sir, England affords Timber, Iron and Hemp; whereas, you are forced to purchase those Commodities in Foreign Countries.
D. Nevertheless, we have all Naval Stores in Barter for Herrings, which costs us little but the trouble of hawling up out of the Sea, which being considered, and how much the catching such Herrings (by employing and encreasing our Ships and Marriners, adds to the Wealth and Strength of our Country,) it conduceth far more to our Advantage, then if Holland had Naval Stores of its own Product: Whereas, to purchase East Country Wares, the English are yearly forced to Export much Coin, to the great exhausting of their Treasure.
E. We do not (as you) depend solely upon the East Country for Naval Stores; no, in case of Exaction or Rupture, we can be sufficiently supplied from our American Plantations.
But if a Fishery be Established in England, what should hinder us from having Naval Stores in Exchange for Herrings as well as you?
D. Your white Herrings are not so bright and good as ours.
E. Whil’st your Clapboard is floating from Germany, the Rhine draws out its Sap, and if we also soak the Corrosive Sap out of our Clapboard, which now discolours and preys upon our Fish, and like you, gip and salt the Herrings as soon as taken, they’l be every whit as bright, and good as Your’s.
D. We build Cheaper in Holland than you do in England, and Sail our Vessels with fewer Hands.
E. Our Ships are much Stronger and Abler to brook the Seas than Your’s, and will last twice as long; and as to your sailing with fewer Hands, we envy not your Happiness, whil’st (in proportion to your Tunnage and Number of Marriners) you yearly loose (by slight building and undermanning) far more Ships and Mens Lives than we, for which Reason, in above three Parts of the World, our Ships yield better Freight, where then lies the Odds? Which were there any, could be only in Merchantmen to carry our Fish to Market; Busses and Fisher Boats carry more Men to catch Fish than are needful to Sail them: And in the Greenland Trade, each Ship must have Three times the Crew that can Navigate her, to Man their Shallops when a Fishing, were not this true since in building, English Shipwrights know no Masters, surely we might easily cause our Ships to be built and manned after your Mode.
But supposing your Assertion true, if as all Ships that carry Corn to Venice, are permitted to Load Currants at Zant; so all Bottoms which Exported English caught Fish, might be allowed to return with a Loading of Naval Stores, without paying Alians Duty: That would set us upon even Ground with you, as to the Business of our Fishery.
D. Two thousand Five hundred Persons are hardly able in a whole Year, to make a Fleet of Nets for Five hundred Busses: Now Englands many wasts and unimproved Lands, shews its not half Peopled, and of those in it,
How many Women and Children do just nothing, only learning to spend what others get.
How many are meer Voluptuaries, and as it were Gamesters by Trade.
How many live by puzeling poor People with unintelligible Notions.
How many by perswading credulous, delicate and litigious Persons, that their Bodies or Estates are out of Tune or in Danger.
How many by Trades of meer Pleasure or Ornament.
How many by Fighting as Soldiers.
How many by Mysteries of Vice and Sin, or in a lazy way of Attendance upon others, where then can you hope to find Hands to carry on your Fishery.
E. In England, we have Numbers of French Protestants, who fled from Diep and the Coasts of Normandy, &c. (bred to the Business of the Fishery from their Cradles) that (if setled in our decayed Fishing Towns) would as certainly make them Flourish as the Walloon and Burgundean Refugees planted by Queen Elizabeth (46) at Norwich, Canterbury and Colchester, raised them (then so Poor) Cities, to such great Trade, Riches and Plenty.
In England, we have no Sumptuary Laws: So that Mercers not foreknowing Fashions, dare not lay out their Stocks till the Spring, at which time their sudden great Demands render Journey Men scarce, and oblige Weavers to draw in Numbers of Apprentices, who in few Months supply the Trade of the Nation; when being turned off, many (like the Inhabitants of the Bath, Epson, Tunbridge, &c. who live by exacting on Strangers in Summer), are ready to Starve for want of Employment before the next Spring.
Were a National Fishery established in England, our Gentry by causing their Footmen and Servants to rise early and employ their idle Hours in making Nets, might not only reap the Profit of their Work, but by accustoming them to Business in their Youths, beget in them such industrious Dispositions, as would prevent (what now too frequently happens) their becoming Beggars, or worse in Old Age.
The time of Labouring, and industrious People well Employ’d, is the best commodity of any Country; and were a Fishery established in England, how Advantagious would it be to the Publick: When all our disbanded Soldiers, poor Prisoners, Widows and Orphans, all poor Tradesmen, Artificers and Labourers, their Wives, Children and Servants, each vacant Interval may be getting a Penny by braiding and beeting of Nets, &c.
The far greatest Part of Englands Droans, are neither so Young, nor yet so Old or Decrepit, but that they may either turn Wheels, spin Twine, braid or beet Net’s, cut Corks, cast Leads, make Herring Spits, Norsels Swils, or Baskets, Gip, Spit, Salt, hang or pack Herrings, or at least tend Fires to smoak or dry them, pick Oakum or the like; and as a constant Employment of our Poor, will be a continual Ease and Comfort to them, by amusing and diverting them from thinking of their Poverty or other Misery; so will it alleviate the Nations Burthen, and in some measure be a Re-peopling of us too, by adding so many lost Hands to the Service of the Publick.
D. But still you want Marriners; whereas Sailers in Holland, are as Common as Beggars in England.
E. ‘Tis own’d, our want of Marriners enough at once to Man our Navy, and Collery, cost London, and the Dependencies upon the River of Thames (during the late War) above Seaven hundred thousand Pounds, only in the Price of Coals; by which may be guessed, how Detrimental it was to the Trade of our Nation in General.
But the more we want Marriners, the greater Reason we have to Establish a Fishery; which (as is shown in the Preface) is the best way to Encrease their Number.
The many Thousands English, Scotch and Irish Marriners, who now yearly Fish for you, would hardly seek work abroad, if a Fishery afforded ’em full Employment at home, and ’tis odds, but a finer Country, cheaper and better Food and Raiment, wholesomer Air, easier Rents and Taxes, will tempt many of your Countrymen to cross the Herring Pond.
Since the Peace is concluded and our Great Ships laid up, we have Marriners enough to being a Fishery; and as that goes forwards, it will proportionably encrease their Numbers.
D. Fishing is a Work, for which the English are unfit, and requires such skilful, industrious and robust Seamen, as no Country breeds but Holland.
E. Your learned Keckerman say’s, ‘ Omnibus Hodiè Gentibus, Navigandi, industrià & peritià Superiores esse Anglos’ .
‘Tis certain, our Mariners do as cheerfully undergo Hardships, and are as bold in Danger as any, and for hard Labour, the working of a Mine is incomparably harder than that of a Buss. No Country but Great Brittain can boast, that after twelve Hours hard Work, its Natives will (in the Evening) go to Foot-ball, Stool-ball, Cricket, Prison-base, Wrestling, Cudgel-playing, or some such vehement Exercise for their Recreations; and as for their Genious, its Remarkable, that such Lads and Country Fellows as at Yarmouth, Laystoffe, &c. are once hired into the Fishing Trade, and come to feed on the Fish they catch, it improves them at such a rate, that of pittiful weaklings at Land, they become healthful, stout and hardy Persons, and upon trial find it so much to their liking, that not one in twenty but take to the Sea for good and all.
D. English Men are dainty Chap’t, and when a Fishing cannot fare like ours.
E. It is certain, they need not for Meat and Drink in Ireland, and in many Parts of England are above as Cheap again as in Holland, which produceth no other Provisions (for Traffick) than Butter and Cheese, and those too are Cheaper with us than with you: Besides ’tis observed, that whatever Dutch Fishermen save by eating of Grout, they drink more than our’s in Brandy.
D. The Act of the 18. Car. 2. prohibits the Importation of Irish Cattle, to keep up Rents: Now catching much Fish (by hindering the Consumption of Flesh,) will make Lands fall.
E. Doubtless Plenty of Food, is a great Blessing of God, and no Good Englishmen will desire to grow Rich by a Famine.
Its generally the landed Men bear the Burthen of the Poor, without finding them Work, they must maintain them Idle: Where the Poor’s Rates are High Lands will fall, and Rents be ill paid.
The cheaper Provisions are, the less Taxes will serve in time of War, House-keeping will be less Chargeable, and a less Rate maintain our Poor: But where Provisions are Dear, Work and Wages, will rise in proportion to the great Detriment of Husbandry, and stop to Improvements, which (pro tanto) will fall Rents; and raise all Manufactures, yet lessen their Consumption both at home and abroad, and Necessitate Masters for want of Vent (by turning off their Journeymen) to make whole Families of Beggars at once.
Catching much Fish, will Morally speaking, render England less subject to a Famine, which generally exhausteth more of our Wealth in one Year, than War doth in two.
Catching much Fish, will give work to many Thousands of both Sexes that now are cloathed in Rags, and (through Poverty) live only on Bread, Water Pulse, Roots, and the like, who when they come to have the rewards of their Labours in their Hands, will Encourage the Woollen Manufacture, by buying New Cloaths; and our Farmers by a greater Consumption of the Product of the Earth, By drinking Strong-beer, will advance the King’s Excise by encreasing the Number of Tenants, raise our Rents, yet lessen our Poor’s Rate and Taxes, by helping to pay them.
Catching much Fish, will occasion the expence of much Butter, and make our Farmers run much upon Daries, the Business whereof though performed by Women, turns to as good Account, as the hardest Labour the Husbandman can employ his Time in: Put case the Market should be over stock’t at Home, English Butter is too Good a Commodity in Flanders, France, Spain, Portugal, &c. ever to want Vent abroad.
The Cheaper our Provisions are, the more Navigation will be Encouraged, more Foreign Ships will Victual with us; fewer of our’s in Ireland, and the more Beef, Pork, &c. shall we Export to Barbadoes, Jamaica, &c. so that supposing Meat should not always remain at a very excessive Rate, yet where a greater Consumption causeth a quick Market, though at a midling Price; if the Proverb be true, light gains will make a heavy Purse.
It is cheap Provisions that Enables the Indians to Supplant the Europeans in their Manufactures; and should a Fishery make Provisions in England but one Tenth part Cheaper, Wages would fall in Proportion, and our Artists grow never the Poorer, yet our Merchants be enabled (by underselling) to beat all the rest of Europe out of the Woollen Trade, and then our Farmers would gain far more by the rise of the Fleece, than they’d loose by the fall of the Flesh.
After all, the Profit of Land in England doth not wholy consist in Breeding, abate in Grasing, and plow up more Pasture, and Flesh will hold its Price.
D. Corn is so Cheap in England, your Farmers are often Broke by it, what then could you do with greater Quantities.
E. The Reason why Farmers sometimes want Vent for their Grain, is because we have not always Store, and therefore Merchants makes no provision for the Trade. But if we yearly Sow such Quantities of Corn beyond the Expence of the Nation, as Merchants may be no less certain of a constant supply here than they are in the Sound (where the Country depends as much upon their Harvest, as France does on its Vintages,) Plenty would soon create a Trade, and the Advantage of England‘s lying so much nearer than Dantzig to the Places where Foreign Corn is exported, together with the Allowance granted by the 25. Car. 2. upon the Exporting thereof, will sufficiently Encourage Merchants to deal therein.
Most of our Ships are now sent light to Bilboa, and Lisbon, (now what loads our Ships helps our Navigation,) and our Exports to Lisbon not answering our Imports from thence; the more we send them in Corn, the less their Wines will cost the Nation in ready Money, or Bills of Exchange which is all one.
Gold and Silver Mines England hath none, and in time of Peace no way to get Bullion, but by Foreign Traffick; to which, nothing can more conduce than cheap Fishing, and cheap Working and Manufacturing the Commodities, which compose the Exports of our Kingdom, and that is, not to be effected except Labour be Cheap, which it can never be where Provisions are dear: But the cheaper our Provisions are, the cheaper our Exports may be afforded, consequently the more Vent we shall have for them, and much Vent will cause many Workmen, and when the Wheel is set agoing, Trade begets Trade, as Fire begets Fire; and the more Trade encreaseth, the more will Industrious People from all Parts flock to us, and Tenant our Houses, enclose our Wasts, improve our Lands, encrease our Manufactures, and enlarge our Products, far beyond the whole Expence of our Nation, and thereby in Proportion add to its Wealth and Treasure, for Merchants exporting the Surplus, will in Returns bring back Gold, Silver, and other valuable Commodities, which in England that hath property by Succession of Contracts, will diffuse among its Inhabitants, and thus as the Number of Persons made Rich by their Labour and Industry encrease, and the Choice of Tenants and Chapmen are enlarged, a kind of Competition amongst them, must and will make Rents and Lands advance in Proportion: Witness Holland, and such of our Lands as lie near Great and Populous Corporations. So true it is, that Trade and Lands are Twins, that always wax and wain together.
D. Notwithstanding what hath been said, I advise all your Country Men not to be concerned in a Fishery, for in Holland we have Money at Three, whereas the Trade of England is burthened with Six per Cent Interest, consequently you can never keep pace with us.
E. Why do you not (for the same Reason) advise us, to forbear Trading to East India, Turkey, Spain, France, Italy, Portugal , &c. nay, to quit all Navigation, and abandon our Selves to the next Comers. Was it not the Fishing Trade gave rise to all your Wealth, and as Money grew plentiful in Holland, did not Lands rise gradually to near forty Years purchase, and Interest fall by degrees from Eight to Three per Cent? Why then may not we expect, that a Fishery will do the same for England, and be a means to regain our Muscovy, Greenland, Norway, and East Country Trades? For, still as Trade by encreasing of Wealth, causeth an abatement of Interest, abatement of Interest, will yet cause a further encrease of Trade.
D. The Dutch are already setled in the Fishing Trade.
E. Stately, Genoa, that once employed Forty thousand Hands in the Silken Manufacture, declines now as fast, as her formerly neglected Neighbour Leghorn riseth: And if the French King continues to court all the World with popular Immunities, Leghorn (in time) must give Place to her Sister Marseilles
The King of Portugal having discovered the Passage to the East Indies (47) by the Cape of Good Hope, and so diverted the Course of Trade driven by the Venetians, from Alexandria, and the Red Sea to his Port of Lisbon; kept Factors at Antwerp, to Vend there his Indian Commodities; which drew several Merchants from divers Parts to reside there, and made that pleasant seated City the Pack-house of Europe: But when the Dutch (48) also found the Way to the Indies, and began to Rival Portugal in that Trade, Merchants resolving not to loose the Advantage of their Skill in Indian Commodities by removing to Amsterdam, improved their own Estates but ruin’d Antwerp.
Trade like the Sea, its Element often ebbs and flows from one Place to another; not many Years since, we Imported Silk-stockings from the Levant: But now the Tide is turn’d, and we send them thither.
D. Projects in England, have of late proved very Unsuccessful.
E. What though some Men have run upon wild Notions, and catching at Shadows lost their Substance, that’s no Objection against our Fishery, which is a certainty; for the Sea yields her Fish, as well as the Earth her Fruit in due Season: And Neptune hath been far more Bountiful to you than Ceres.
D. Have you drawn up a Method for Employing the Poor of England in a National Fishery?
E. I have attempted it, but find the well contriving the Business requires far better Heads than mine.
D. However let’s see your ESSAY.
E. Here it is Sir, and may receive Alterations and Additions upon Consideration.
• 1. THAT towards raising a Joint-stock for Employing the Poor in a National Fishery, a Million be Subscribed.
• 2. That the Money Subscribed be called Stock, and be Assignable.
• 3. That every Subscriber, at the time of such their Subscriptions, pay to …… One full fourth Part of his, her, or their respective Subscriptions; and in Default of such Payment, every Subscription to be utterly Void and Null.
• 4. That the residue of the said Subscriptions, be paid by such Proportions, and at such Days and Times, as by a General Court of the said Subscribers, shall from time to time be appointed: And in Default of such Payment, that then the fourth Part first paid, as aforesaid, be forfeited to the Use of the Corporation, herein after mentioned, their Successors and Assigns.
• 5. That the Subscribers be Incorporated by Act of Parliament (by the Name of the Corporation, for employing the Poor of England in a National Fishery) with perpetual Succession.
• 6. That at a General Court to be held for the said Corporation, Thirty be chosen out of the said Subscribers, by plurality of Votes, and presented to the Parliament.
• 7. That out of the said Thirty, Ten be nominated Fathers of the Poor, and Directors of the National Fishery by both Houses of Parliament, approved by His Majesty, and accountable to them for their Trust.
• 8. That in case of Vacancy (by the Death, or Misdemeanor) of any one of the said Father’s of the Poor (during Sessions of Parliament,) the said Corporation to present Three, out of which His Majesty and Parliament to nominate One, as before, and so toties quoties. But in case the Parliament shall not then be sitting, that such Vacancies be filled up by the Majority of the Surviving Father’s until next Sessions of Parliament; and then the Corporation to present, and the King and Parliament to approve as before.
• 9. That such Father’s be Impowered to Constitute under the Seal of the said Corporation, a sufficient Number of Deputies in each County in England; and that such Deputies be, and be called Steward’s of the Poor.
• 10. That the said Father’s and such Steward’s of the Poor, be exempted from all Parish Offices.
• 11. That the said Father’s, and such their Steward’s be vested with all Authority now in Justices of the Peace; and that all Parish Officers be subordinate and accountable to the said (Father’s and such their Steward’s,) in allthings (only) relating to Employing the Poor.
• 12. That the said Father’s and Steward’s have Freedom to set the Poor on Work, about such of the said Trades relating to the Fishery as they shall think fit, with a non obstante to all Patents that have been, or shall be granted.
• 13. That to prevent People from being opprest and ground to Poverty by PawnBrokers, that screw out of them 40 or 50 per Cent; the said Father’s may be allowed to erect Lumber Offices in every City and Town in England exclusive of all others, upon Condition they take not above …… per Cent. per Annum.
• 14. That in all Churches (as in Holland) at every Solemn Assembly, the ChurchWardens with a long Staff, Bag and Bell during the Sermon, receive the Charitable Benevolence of the whole Congregation, and pay the same to the said Father’s, who shall cause a true Account to be kept thereof, and apply it to the Erecting Hospitals in London and other Great Cities, wherein Poor Women near the time of their Travel, may be received and carefully Delivered, and remain till they are in a condition to return Home, and follow their Work: And if at the Years end, any Overplus of such Collections remain, that the same be yearly applyed for Marrying poor Maids.
• 15. That until the Business of the Fishery be sufficient alone to give Employment to all our Poor, (or at least during Ten Years next after the Establishing a National Fishery,) the said Father’s and Steward’s of the Poor, may be Impowered to Imploy such of them as they shall think fit, in erecting Free-Schooles, Hospitals, Workhouses, and Ware-houses; for the Corporation, in making Enclosures, in repairing Sea Banks, draining Fens, cleansing and deepning Rivers and Havens, in building and repairing Churches, Bridges and Causeways, in mending Roads, in planting Oaks near Navigable Rivers, and Fruit Trees, in Inland Countries, also in cleansing of Streets, Commonshores and the like.
• 16. That the said Father’s of the Poor, be Impowered to send such Refractory Poor as they shall think fit, to serve in His Majesties Plantations, taking Security for their comfortable Maintenance during their Service, and for their Freedom afterwards.
• 17. That all the Poor’s Rates in England be Collected, as formerly by the ChurchWardens of each Parish, and by them quarterly paid into the Treasury of the said Corporation, as a Recompence for their providing for the Poor, and freeing the Nation from Beggars.
• 18. That the Million Subscribed, be always kept Intire, as a Security to Indemnify the Nation against the Charge of the Poor; and the Income and Profit’s be only divided amongst the Subscribers.
• 19. That the Treasure of the said Corporation be accounted as Sacred, and that it be Felony to imbezel, lend, convert, or apply the same to any other Use, than maintaining the Poor, or carrying on the Business of the Fishery.
• 20. That the said Father’s may buy up when Cheap, a certain Quantity of Corn, Coals, &c. yearly, and lodge the same in their Granaries, for the Use of the Poor, but not make Merchandize of them, or sell them again in England.
• 21. That the Stock in the said Fishery be not chargeable with any Rates, Duties, or Impositions whatsoever.
• 22. That Debts due to the Fishery, for Goods by them, bona fide sold and delivered, take Preference of all others, Except those due to the King.
• 23. That all Persons may Fish as formerly, and sell what they catch in England, but none Export any Fish but the National Fishery without paying them …… per Cent.
• 24. That the said Father’s and Steward’s, be Impowered to bind such single Persons to the Company, as the Church-Wardens and Overseers of the Poor by the Statutes of 43 Eliz. 2.1 Jac. 25.21 Jac. 28. and the 3 Car. 4. are Impowered to put out Apprentices, the Boys to Serve till Twenty four, and the Girls till Twenty one Years of Age; at One of the two and thirty Trades more immediately relating to the Fishery.
• The Companies Interest will oblige them to Provide the best and soberest Masters.
How to prevent their Desertion can be shown beyond Objection.
The Boys being in the Fishing Season employ’d at Sea, and working at other Times at that Trade relating to the Fishery to which they were Bound, when their Time is out, will be able to get their Livelyhoods either at Sea or Land; and if to render them more capable of serving their Country, the said Father’s or Steward’s (at Four a Clock each Saturday in the Afternoon) should cause them when (on shore) to Muster, and Exercise although only with Staves,) and for Diversion to play at Cudgels, or Fence, and reward the Conquerer with liberty of wearing a small Ribbon, whose distinguishing Colour of Red, Blew, &c. should Entitle them to be called Captains, Lieutenants, &c. by the rest of their Fellows, till next Weeks trial of Skill: How soon would Emulation beget Address? And what a Treasure and Strength to England would such a Sea-Militia be, always ready for Service both by Sea and Land, and yet no Charge to the Nation till actually in it.
That His Majesty may be addressed to grant Leases to the said National Fishery, of all Wasts and Derelict Lands to be by them used in building Warehouses, curing Fish, spinning Twine, and drying and beeting their Nets and the like; and also to be by them distributed amongst such of their Apprentices, their Heirs and Assigns, as shall have faithfully served them Eight, or more Years, not more then five Acres apiece.
D. Upon the whole, I confess, that England may out Fish us, but then you must have nothing to do with Companies, only make it every particular Man’s Interest, and they’l soon make it their Business.
E. Its Dangerous taking a Rivals Advice, and well known why Fish was so Cheap this Year in Spain, Portugal, Italy, and other English Markets; yet sold so well in the East Countries.
Glutting Markets may Ruine particular Men, but its far more Difficult to put Tricks upon Companies.
D. After all, where can you find a Set of Honest Men, to carry on a National Fishery in England?
E. In Amsterdam, you have your Church-Wardens, Directors of Bethlem, of your Rasp-house, of your Spin-house, &c. Commissioners for your small Differences, and those of your Levant Trade, your Sea Affairs, &c. also your Vroedschap, your Schepens, and your Burge-masters, which are Places of far more Trouble than Profit, yet (being the usual steps to Preferment) are generally (like that of Common-Council Men in London) officiated without Reproach. Not for that the Dutch are honester Men than their Neighbours: But because such are found tardy in those Employments are barred all future hopes of Advancement. And should our Parliament address his Majesty to prefer in the Custom house, Excise, &c. such as behaved themselves well in the Fishery, and make breach of Trust therein, to incapacitate Men from serving the Government in any Employment Military, or Civil for ….. Years (how small Wages soever the Corporation allowed,) the Company would never want Servants, that Voluntier like, would vie with each other, who should best serve their Country by most promoting its Fishery.
D. An Honest-Man is a Citizen of the World, Gain, equaliseth all Places to me. And when you Settle a Fishery upon better Terms than our’s (as my Grandfather left Antwerp when its Trade began to decay, and removed to Amsterdam) I’le bid adieu to t’ Vaderlandt, and Remove to London in the Interim: Farewel.
Seeing in the Preamble of an ACT passed in the 14 Car. 2. ‘Tis declared, That the Publick Honour, Wealth and Safety of this Realm, as well in the Maintenance and Support of Navigation, as in many other Respects doth in an high Degree, depend upon the Improvement and Encouragement of the FISHERY.
And seeing the way to all this Honour, Wealth and Safety is so Plain and Easie, that by only a Frugal and Industrious management of Affairs (without quarrelling with our Neighbours,) we may quickly become sole Masters of the Fishing Trade.
For shame let not English-Men longer say, with Solomon’s sloathful ‘There is a Lyon in the Way.’ (Prov. 26.13.)
1. Darbyshire, Nottinghamshire, Staffordshire,
8. Carmarthenshire, Cumberland, Durham, Lancashire, Leicestersshire, Northumberland, Shropshire, Staffordshire, Yorkshire,
9. Cornwall, Cumberland, Darbyshire, Staffordshire, Yorkshire,
10. Bedfordshire, Surrey,
12. Darbyshire, Durham, Gloucestershire, Hampshire, Shropshire, Staffordshire, Warwickshire,
15. Cardiganshire, Carmarthenshire, Darbyshire, Devonshire, Durham, Staffordshire, Yorkshire,
16. Darbyshire, Dorsetshire,
17. Anglesey, Cheshire, Darbyshire, Flintshire,
21. Cheshire, Cumberland, Worcestershire,
23. Cornwall, Devonshire,
30. Cornwall, Gloucestershire.
31. So the Dutch in a Proclamation 1624*, stiled the Fishing Trade.
32. Anno 1200.
33. Anno 1295.
34, Rot. Pat. 23. Ed. 1st. memb. 5.
35. Rot. Pat. 22. Ed. ivth. memb. 2.
36. Camden’s Brittania,
38. 21. Dec. 1618.
39. Pol. Gron & Maxims Van Holl. Page 43.
40. L.v. Aitzma. Anno 1653.
41. Anno 1633.
42. Page 140.
43. Pol. Gran & Maxims van Holland, Page 44.
44. Sir William Temple’s Observation on the United Provinces.
45. Lex. Mercator. Fol, 171.
47. Anno 1500.
48. Anno 1602.
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